Freelance writers and strategists talk about pricing all the time.
But as a community, we rarely discuss how we can work together to communicate our long-term value … how to empower each other to charge more … and cheer each other on when we do.
When we can speak about pricing on a higher level in more empowering ways, we create a tide that raises all boats.
My guest for this episode is Mandy Ellis, a business coach and award-winning six-figure freelance content strategist and content marketing writer who’s been freelancing for 10 years.
In this podcast episode, we discuss why we often undervalue our client work, and how we can support each other as we pursue higher fees that align with the value we deliver.
The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Tell us about yourself and your business
Mandy Ellis works with both B2B and B2C clients in PropTech, real estate, hospitality tech, food, restaurants, travel, SaaS, FinTech, insurance, InsureTech, and health.
She launched her freelance business in 2013. She started by finding clients on the Elance-oDesk platform (now Upwork).
Eventually, she moved off that platform and changed her business model based. Today, she offers a mix of content marketing and content strategy to her clients as well as coaching. She also has a course for writers.
Tell us about the transition from Upwork to your business today
Mandy got scammed on Upwork, which was the final straw.
Mandy let go of all her Upwork clients and started over with warm email prospecting. She changed the premise of what she was doing from “How do I find people that need a writer?” to “How do I find the right clients for me?”
How did your pricing philosophy evolve over the years?
Mandy only charged $50 an hour on Upwork. Even so, people constantly asked if she’d do the work for half, or even a quarter, of that rate. She began to think that rate was the best she could do.
She eventually realized she needed to pitch clients that had sufficient revenue to support her rates. She concluded startups needed at least $3 million in revenue and regular companies needed $5-50 million, depending on the niche.
Mandy also connected with a community of writers that she could use as a sounding board for her rates. This gave her the confidence to charge more and understand that her work had more value than she thought.
Tell us more about your mindset around value
Content lives on beyond the client relationship. Blog articles Mandy wrote more than 10 years ago still generate leads, sales, web traffic, and brand awareness today.
She estimates her value as a mix of what she thinks the work is worth, the experience and knowledge she brings to the project, and the long-term value of the content to the client.
You’ve noted that freelance writers sometimes tear down other writers when it comes to pricing. Tell us your thoughts
Many of us live in fear and scarcity. Money is something we don’t talk about. There’s a fear that if we charge too much, our clients will hate us.
So, we tear people down instead of building them up. But if we worked to empower each other, we could all feel more confident with our rates.
Mandy sees “tearing down” conversations in at least half of the communities she’s in.
But these writers aren’t considering the long-term value of content. They’re thinking transactionally.
Unfortunately, the idea of the starving artist still survives. We’re taught as creatives that we can’t make money—even though lots of writers make over six-figures.
Many writers also have baggage they need to shed, especially if they come from fields like journalism where there are rules and expectations about what they can charge.
So how do we escape this kind of thinking?
The odds that you’re actually overcharging for a project are low. In 10 years, Mandy has only seen one example where a writer was blatantly overcharging.
Therefore, if someone is charging more than you, take it as an indication of what’s possible. Rather than shooting it down, use it as inspiration.
We need to have more conversations about pricing and ask more pricing questions of each other, such as:
- What are you charging?
- What type of client?
- What industry?
- What niche?
- What type of project?
- What was the word count or page length?
- How was the work completed?
We can then use this data to inform what we charge and assess what’s possible.
Sometimes the question you need to ask is: “What kind of professional do I need to become to charge that?”
What do you think we can do to encourage people and learn from them?
It helps to be around different types of writers, in different fields, doing different work in different places. This gives us perspective and makes it easier for us to encourage people because we understand them better.
Talking to different writers also helps. As writers, we live a lot of our lives alone. Reach out to others! Connecting and talking about these subjects more helps everyone.
Nothing good comes from tearing people down. When you build others up, you build yourself up as well.
Where can listeners learn more about you?
Live stream every Friday at noon CT on YouTube
By the way… whenever you’re ready, here are 3 ways I can help you grow your freelance business:
1. Grab a free copy of my book.
It’s called Earn More in Less Time: The Proven Mindset, Strategies and Actions to Prosper as a Freelance Writer. The title says it all. 😉 — Click Here
2. Join my implementation program and be a case study.
I’m putting together a new implementation group this month. If you’re earning $5k+/month (or the part-time equivalent) from your freelance business … and you’d like to grow your income quickly with better clients … just email me at [email protected]
3. Work with me privately.
If you’re a 6-figure writer who’s trying to earn more in less time, with less stress, I might be able to help you get there faster than you think. Just email me at [email protected] and put “Breakthrough” in the subject line, and I’ll get back to you with more details.